Obsessive or Relentless?
But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14:20
As most of you know, it snowed 8 or 10 inches here yesterday. It was a wet, sloppy, unpleasant snow – did I mention it’s October? Still, it was snow, and since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed playing in the snow. So, after I finished shoveling the driveway, I went out in the backyard to play. I’d usually make snow piles with the snowblower, but it was too wet for that to work. So, I shoveled a big pile and made a snow castle . . . yes, by myself. It’s not my personality to just make a simple snowman. No, I need to make something a little more grand.
It’s my nature to be prone to obsessive tendencies. I don’t just train for a 5K. I sign up for the marathon. I don’t eat one donut. I eat the whole box (which tends to interfere with the marathon training). If I’m going to go, I might as well go big.
A lot of us who’ve wrestled with addiction understand this all-or-nothing personality. In our addiction, we were absolutely committed, abandoning all else for the drug. In our sobriety then, we often redirect that obsessive nature towards something else. When that something consumes us, distracting from the life we should be living, our obsession is destructive. There are times though, when we channel that energy in the right direction. Then, it we call it something else, like commitment, tenacity, or relentlessness. Depending on where we point our energy, it can be a liability or an asset.
The apostle Paul understood this all-or-nothing nature I think. Once a zealot, persecuting Christians, he was obsessed with stamping out Christianity. After his conversion though, we would say he was relentless in spreading the gospel of Christ. In today’s story, Paul’s enemies beat him with stones, drug him out of the city, and left him for dead. When his fellow Christians gathered around his body though, Paul popped up, went to Derbe, and just kept on preaching the gospel. That’s relentlessness.
We’re capable of terrible things or wonderful things, depending on which direction we point our energies. If we pursue our own path, we self-destruct in our obsessiveness. If though, we point our passion at God, like Paul, we too can be relentless.